Clark Media Productions

Clark Media Productions is a place for me to share my love of audio production, music, trombone, and music technology. Subscribe to my email list for late breaking blog posts, videos, and educational content!

I give thanks... for tape transfers! (Students of Neill Humfeld, you will want to read... ;)

I have many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  A wonderful, healthy family, colleagues that are the absolute best to work with, and a job that I love.  However, on the music front, one thing stands out to me this November that I didn’t see coming, even a month ago.

I have previously written about my teacher, Dr. Neill Humfeld, and his influence on me, and a little about his musicianship and teaching.  When Dr. Humfeld passed, my dad and I came into possession of a couple boxes of analog tape (the reel to reel kind) containing all kinds of recordings of Dr. H from many years of recitals and concerts.  It has been one of those things that  I look at and say, “man, we really gotta get that transferred so we can listen to it!”  I never knew what that entailed, or how you would even go about doing it, until recently...

Fast forward to the past year, where my own interest in audio, especially in producing and preserving live performances, has come into play.  This fall, coincidentally, I have been taking a course online through Berklee College of Music called Audio Mastering, taught by an expert engineer, Marc Dieter-Einstmann (check out Marc’s mastering studio HERE).  Mastering is the final step in the production process for any audio recording.  A recording gets made (live or in studio), and then gets mixed.  In the mixing stage, the mix engineer takes all the audio that was recorded (sometimes as many as 100 tracks or more), and essentially places all those voices in the stereo field (where you locate that sound when you hear the recording) and gives the recording it’s tonal shape, and many other musical variables that make a certain record sound unique.  In mastering, the engineer takes the fully mixed recording and puts the finishing touches on it.  These can be musical or tonal adjustments (maybe something the mix engineer missed or didn’t hear), technical corrections (bad edits, noise removal), and general quality control.  Finally, a mastering engineer will set the loudness level of the recording, and produce a “master” containing all the tracks of the album, in the correct order, and with great care to ensure there are no functional errors.  

Another function of many mastering engineers is to transfer analog tape to the digital realm. Analog tape machines are hard to come by.  Well cared for and functional analog tape machines are even harder to come by!  So, when I said I hadn’t thought much about this project until a month ago, it was because I hadn’t put 2 and 2 together.  The U.S. Marine Band has, in its audio lab, a Studer 820 analog tape console.  Console is an apt description, because this thing is a beast!  All the tapes I have of Dr. Humfeld are 1/4” 2-track stereo tapes, and that is the exact tape this machine is built to play back.  With the permission of our recording chief, and some amazing help from the swiss army knife of audio in my world, Mike Ducassoux, I had a total master class in operating one of these unbelievable pieces of analog technology.  

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To hear these performances come back to life, after over 50 years for some of them, is truly a delight.  To hear Dr. Humfeld’s sound, in performances I’ve never heard before, is truly something to be thankful for.  

So, what to do with these?  Well, after speaking with Dr. Humfeld’s daughter, Nancy Jo Humfeld, I would like to continue to transfer more of these recitals and create a “BEST OF” album of Dr. Humfeld’s recitals over the years.  On many of these tapes, he speaks at length to the audience about the music he performs, and many of the recordings reflect his warm sense of humor that many of us came to love from knowing him.  

Stay tuned, there is much more to come.  I plan to make this project a major focus of my 2019.  

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  May you all be blessed to love, make music, and enjoy the people in our lives that are important to us!



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Does YOUR engineer run a backup???

You have probably heard the old adage, “Two is one, one is none”. Or maybe another thing my mom used to say to me, “better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

How does that apply to the recording arts? And what does it mean?

I have had the pleasure of getting to know, and learn from, some excellent engineers over the past few years. Backing up computer data, and audio files, is always on their minds. File management, and being able to FIND the audio you’ve recorded, and avoid unnecessary duplication of tracks is a large topic. For the engineers I’ve learned from, it all starts with the initial capture at the live concert or session. Both Christian Amonson and Mike Ducassoux have different systems, but they both serve the need to stave off any visit from Mr. Murphy very well.

So, after listening to these gentlemen for a good amount of time, I decided it would be prudent to incorporate some of their methods in to my own workflow. So, I took their advice and developed my own backup system.

A backup system is, simply, a 2nd recording that runs in parallel to the primary recording equipment. In my case, my microphones run into both my laptop, as well as a Zoom 8-channel SD recorder. Why does this matter? Well, in case of catastrophic laptop failure, the Zoom captures the source audio, even if my laptop is turned off completely.

So, when you book an engineer to record your concert, ask them, “do you have backup”? If their answer is “no”, give me a call! ;)

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American Conical Ensemble records James Curnow

There’s a new brass group on the block! This summer, at the Great American Brass Band Festival in Danville, Kentucky, a new “super group” of brass musicians took the stage. Trumpeters Chris Martin (New York Philharmonic), Mark Ridenour (Chicago Symphony), and Matthew Harding (U.S. Marine Band), were joined by alto horn virtuoso Nathan Miller (Asbury University), Hiram Diaz (U.S. Marine Band) on euphonium, and Christopher Tiedeman (U.S Marine Band) on tuba.

Long time brass band supporter and world renowned composer and arranger, James Curnow, arranged a new piece for this virtuoso ensemble, which they premiered at GABBF. The group returned from Kentucky and really wanted a chance to record Jim’s wonderful arrangement of Appalachian fiddle music.

This recording features Amy McCabe and Anthony Bellino on trumpet (both members of the U.S. Marine Band), as well as Matthew Harding on piccolo trumpet, Nathan Miller, Hiram Diaz, and Chris Tiedeman.

Posaune Decuple, Trombone "super group", Performs near Philadelphia

I had a wonderful experience this past April. Wonderful in many ways, not the least of which was a chance to honor my former teacher and former Principal Trombone of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the late Glenn Dodson. While Glenn was alive, he nurtured a passion for trombone choir music among his students and colleagues. Glenn spearheaded the ensemble Posaune Decuple. The choir consisted mostly of Glenn’s former students at the Curtis Institute, but was also honored to have colleagues and friends perform on many occasions. Since Glenn’s passing, the group has endeavored to keep performing, even if they are only able to gather once per year or so. Joseph Alessi, Blair Bollinger, and Darrin Milling have been stalwart supporters, organizers, and performers for many years with the ensemble, and they are continuing the hard work of organizing concerts and coordinating the schedules of so many busy performers. I was fortunate to be invited to play this year, and due to an abundance of players (and having some pieces off on the concert), I asked if I could record audio and video for this year’s concert. I’d like to share the first video I’ve put together of the concert. There was so much fantastic playing, it was hard to choose what to showcase! I hope you enjoy!

Posaune Decuple 2018 Roster:

Tenor Trombones:

Joseph Alessi - Principal Trombone, New York Philharmonic

Eric Carlson - Second Trombone, Philadelphia Orchestra

Chris Clark - "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band

David Finlayson - Second Trombone, New York Philharmonic

Nitzan Haroz - Principal Trombone, Philadelphia Orchestra

Mark Lawrence - former Principal Trombone, The San Francisco Symphony, currently faculty at The Colburn School

Carl Lenthe - former Principal Trombone, Bamberg (Germany) Symphony Orchestra, currently faculty at Indiana University

Jim Nova - Second Trombone, Pittsburgh Symphony

Matt Vaughn - Co-principal Trombone, Philadelphia Orchestra

Colin Williams - Associate Principal Trombone, New York Philharmonic

Bass Trombones:

Blair Bollinger - Bass Trombone, Philadelphia Orchestra

George Curran - Bass Trombone, New York Philharmonic

Darrin Milling - Bass Trombone Principal, São Paolo State Symphony

Music by:

Anthony DiLorenzo

G.F. Handel/arr. Carlson

Steven Verhelst

John Williams/arr. Glenn Dodson

Audio/Video recording: Clark Media Productions

Photography: Steven Osborne, Matthew Lynch, Chris Clark

New Youtube Series!

Hi everyone!  I wanted to tell you about another Clark Media production that is now available to the public!  My fantastic euphonium colleague, Hiram Diaz, came to me in the spring with a great idea to make a new series of videos.  Hiram, like many euphonium and trombone players, has been playing the 20 Counterparts duet series written by Tom Ervin, for many years.  These are duets written to accompany the Bordogni/Rochut etudes that so many of us incorporate in to our daily practice.  The videos include Hiram performing the duet part - the player utilizing the video provides the Bordogni etude.  Hiram also has some excellent comments at the beginning of each video encompassing his performance practice and musical ideas about the piece.  To purchase the original sheet music book, Counterparts, go to Tom Ervin's official website.  

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